Backing Up Your PC
When you backup your PC, what are you backing up? How much should you back up? Are you really backing up? Do you know how to restore from your backup? Do you know the difference between System Restore and Data Recovery?
These are leading questions you should try to answer if you use your computer to generate data that you need. If all you ever do is play video games, and you have the game disks, there is no need to be concerned about backing up.
Restoring from a backup is kind of like changing a flat tire. A lot of people never even consider doing either one until the need arises.
I am suggesting you do both. Change your tire in your driveway, on a sunny day, with someone to assist you (this is also a good time to realize that maybe your spare is flat). Then, when you have to do it at night, in the rain, on a back road, you may not feel as intimidated.
The same applies to restoring data from a backup. Practice before you are pressured to have to do it.
All you need to do is to restore it to a temp location and compare it to the source. Then be sure to delete the temp location.
What is a Backup?
A backup is a copy of data that can be restored if the original location becomes corrupt.
What is System Restore?
System Restore is a utility that will allow you to "Reset" your Operating System (OS) to the condition it was in at a previous time. This does not restore data files. Periodically the OS will make a "Check Point" and save critical OS files. If your system operation becomes corrupt, you can tell it to "Go Back In Time" to a good checkpoint.
I have used this several times and it really does work. I have also attempted to use it when it would not work. It is most helpful when you have just installed a new program and the system will not start properly. You may be able to restore to the time right before you started the install and be ok. You can also force the system to create a checkpoint so you know that that checkpoint is good.
When You Backup Your PC, Where are Your Files??
It really doesn't make any sense to backup your PC and keep the backup file on your hard drive. If you drive crashes, you can't get to your backup! (Duh!)
If the backup data is critical to your business, you need to keep the backup away from your business just so that if you can’t get into your building, you can still get to your backup data.
I once worked with a client that kept their backup data and original disks in a Safety Deposit box. Quite secure – until they needed the data on a Saturday night and couldn’t get it until the following Tuesday - after a holiday.
What Should You Back Up?
You should be backing up any data that is not available to restore from the installation disk, downloads, or, if you have it, the System Restore function. Only you can answer this. Do you need a copy of every single email you have ever sent or received? Do you need all of those iPod files? How about all of those pictures you took?
Are You Actually Backing Up?
How do you know this unless you check to see that the data you requested to be backed up is actually backing up? If you think that you are backing up 2.6 Gig of data, the job finished in 3 minutes, and the backup file is 80k, I am willing to bet you didn’t get all of the data you wanted. The easiest way is to look at the Job File and see that all of the locations you told it to work with are listed. You also need to look at the backup results. If you see backup file sizes like 1.2G, 1.3G, 1.1G, 1.4G, 1.2g – all seems to be OK. However, if you see backup file sizes like 1.2G, 1.3G, 1.1G, 1.4G, 500M – Whoa – where did about 600Meg of data go.
Where are the Files That You Need to Back Up?
If you are the only user on your computer most of the data is on one location – under your User Name. However, if there are multiple users, there are multiple locations and one user may not be able to get to the other users' data to back up. You also need to know the default program data locations for each application you have data that you need to save. Perhaps you need to create one location where all data is stored. That way you only need to back up one location.
How to Backup Your PC Data?
There are several methods of backing up. What you end up doing can only be defined by your specific situation. You could use the built-in Windows backup, a Third Party program, an external hard drive or Tape system, several memory sticks, etc. The main item to remember is that you need to have a minimum of two sets of media – 2 memory sticks, 2 tapes, etc.
You need to make sure that the capacity of your backup will hold the information you will have in the future. The reason is that you need more that one backup media is that you do not want to be in a situation where the system crashes while you are writing over your only good copy of data (this has happened more than once).
Yes, backing up can be complicated, time-consuming, and costly. However, the consequences of not backing up can be catastrophic!
Also, the more you learn about backing up, the more you learn about using your computer and how to make it do what you want it to do, instead of letting it make all the decisions for you.
If you want help setting up a backup procedure for your PC, let me know! We can work together to create a backup system that meets your needs at the time of my on-site service.